Third Level Access is co-funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020
The purpose of the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) is to provide funding to higher and further education institutions to assist them in offering supports and services to eligible students with disabilities so that they can participate on an equal basis with their peers. The FSD has been in place since 1994 and, since 2003 has been managed by the HEA on behalf of the Department of Education & Skills (DES). The FSD operates in addition to the legal framework supporting the rights of students with disabilities to access further and higher education. The FSD also operates in addition to mainstream resources and services in place in higher education institutions (HEIs).
Along with the Student Assistance Fund (SAF), the FSD supports the implementation of Ireland’s National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019. The FSD is also part of broader Europe-wide efforts to support inclusion in education and training and is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).
Purpose of the Fund for Students with Disabilities
The purpose of the FSD is to provide resources to further and higher education institutions for the delivery of key services and supports for students with disabilities on full-time courses (and in the case of HEIs, part-time courses as well). The FSD aims to support the personal, educational and professional development of the participating student and contribute to the achievement of their full potential.
Who is eligible for support under the Fund?
To be eligible for support under the FSD, a student must meet the following conditions:
Funding can be used to provide supports and accommodations in any of the following categories:
Assistive technology equipment and software (including student training);
Non-Medical Helpers (e.g. personal assistants, notetakers)
Deaf supports (Sign Language Interpreters, SpeedText)
HEIs are required to comply with European and national procurement guidelines when procuring services or accommodations in relation to the FSD, and, where appropriate, explore opportunities to procure services or accommodations using a ‘shared service’ approach.
Disclosure of Need
The initial decision around disclosure rests with the individual. Where a student discloses to the HEI, they should be advised per the provisions of the Data Protection Acts 1988- 2018, as to any relevant third-party sharing and should be requested to provide their explicit consent to same in writing.
Assessment of Need
A needs assessment form must be completed for each student included in the FSD Resource Allocation Return (RAR) and should be maintained by the institution for verification and audit by the HEA.
The needs assessment form is the source document that determines the supports and accommodations that will be requested on the student’s behalf. Student participation in the assessment process is essential. It should be noted however that the document is the HEI’s document and the HEI is ultimately responsible for decisions on the most appropriate support plan to meet the needs of the student.